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Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Tablet
Peripherals | First Looks
Thu 29 Oct 2009

Chipped Slate

By Jonathan Leo

Sparing the obvious wood and bark jokes about Wacom's new tablet line, we'll get straight to the key point first: before implementing some form of touch feature on a tablet, make sure they work the same way it does when one use a specialized pen for said tablet. Trying to draw anything or even perform basic functions with your fingers on the Wacom Bamboo Pen & Touch Tablet is an exercise in futility.

A Touch of Fail

When you start using the touch functions, it seems fine and dandy until you realize that the cursor moves too fast (and the dpi rate cannot be adjusted) and that the simple act of double-tapping the tablet to initiate a double-click works when it feels like it.

The tablet did not register when our two fingers were pressing onto it simultaneously to activate a right mouse button click. You'll also have to drag the cursor from its original anchor instead of the usual "tap a spot and it's instantly there" function that should be basic in any touch-based interfaces.

Draws Great

As a drawing tool for Photoshop and Corel Paint however, this Bamboo tablet works great. The pen it comes with feels good to hold and can have its side and tip buttons customized with the driver installed. There were no problems in drawing simple brush strokes of varying pressures when doing digital sketches on the latest version of Photoshop. We're not talking pro-artist levels of depth and pressure points here, but what it offers is pretty solid.

Unlike the tree it's named after, the tablet is about as sturdy as a twig. Initially, holstering the tablet onto your lap like one would a drawing canvas feels natural, but we had the feeling that it would break in two if it was accidentally dropped.

On the plus side though, you can bring it around and store it in tight spaces of your bag easily. It's definitely a boon for those with netbook and laptop users who prefer doing digital sketchings and drawings outside of their homes. You can customize the four buttons to whatever keys and modifiers you wish to assign it to and also turn the Touch Screen function off (something I would suggest you do upon holding this).

Final Thoughts

"Walking contradiction" is an appropriate label for Wacom's latest. While the Bamboo is a decent piece of work, just remember that you're paying extra for a feature that only sounds effective in theory. In the end, it's nothing more than a gimmick that'll keep you entertained for a few hours or so until you realize how impractical it is. Be fortunate that the Bamboo line comes with a pen-only tablet SKU (retailing at $129), otherwise uninformed saps will be paying an extra $50 for excess baggage.

Product Specifications

  • Tablet Dimensions (W x H): 9.8" x 6.9" (249mm x 175mm)
  • Pressure Levels: 1024
  • Resolution: 2540 lpi
  • Max Data Rate: 133 pps
  • Two sensors for precise pen and Multi-Touch input
  • Battery-free, ergonomic pen with two switches
  • USB interface
  • Supports Windows 7, Vista or XP with SP2, Mac OS X (10.4.8 and above)
  • Bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 and Nik Color Efex Pro